Unrest in China over Zero-COVID Policy

Protests have erupted in multiple cities across China over the Zero-COVID policies of the ruling Chinese Communist Party. The unprecedented demonstrations, reminiscent of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, have presented Chinese President Xi Jinping with a rare challenge of his authority.

Many parts of the country, like the cities of Shanghai and Zhengzhou, have been in and out of strict COVID lockdowns since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020. However, this is the first notable instance of resistance to the COVID lockdowns in China.

Videos have surfaced showing protestors forcibly removing barriers erected by authorities. According to Austin Ramzy and Wenxin Fan of The Wall Street Journal, the protests began as a result of an apartment building fire in the City of Urumqi, which is the capital of the region of Xinjiang. Residents of the region have been locked down for more than 100 days. According to an official account published in the state-run Xinjiang Daily, the fire allegedly started in the bathroom of a 15th floor apartment and killed 10 people. Nonetheless, the families of the victims believe that the death toll is actually higher than the official tally. Furthermore, many have asserted that the COVID policies imposed by Chinese authorities around and possibly inside the apartment building delayed authorities’ response to the fire.

Employees at Foxconn Technology Group’s main plant in Zhengzhou, which is the world’s largest iPhone factory, recently protested a contract dispute that leads back to COVID-related restrictions imposed by Chinese authorities.

A junior political science student responded to the matter, “Hopefully this situation resolves with minimal economic damage, alongside an expansion of civil rights.”